Choosing Gratitude


After three days of a kid with a fever, we finally got out of the house yesterday. It was glorious. We went to the pool with some friends.  The girls burned off some pent-up energy, and I was happy to simply sit on the sidelines and enjoy a few minutes of peace and quiet.

Then we got home, and my younger daughter (the same one that had just gotten over the fever) started complaining about an itchy, watery eye. One look at her eye, and I stuck her in the car and took her to the Minute Clinic. A half hour later we had a pink eye diagnosis and a prescription for eye drops.

I would love to sit here and tell you that in light of the post I wrote on Monday that I took this all in stride. I would love to tell you that I didn't rant and rave in my mind about the unfairness of it all. I would love to tell you that I started counting my blessings.

But I didn't do any of those things. As I washed pillowcases and blankets and pretty much anything my daughter had touched in the past few days, I raged inside. This wasn't fair. I'm not accomplishing anything this week. I just want a few days of normal.

I didn't say any of it out loud, but I thought it. Oh, did I think it. Until my daughter started voicing her thoughts about the unfairness of it all. Her attitude went from smiling and happy earlier in the day to frustrated and mad. And I understood it. I felt the exact same way. Except that when my daughter started raging, I realized what it looked and sounded like. I realized how insignificant these illnesses are in the grand scheme of the world. And I set out to change my attitude and my daughter's.

We spent some time talking about it. We acknowledged that it wasn't fair that she had just gotten better and now she was sick again. We talked about how frustrating that is for everyone in our family. And then we talked about choices.

You see, every day, we have a choice about how we're going to deal with our circumstances. We can choose to let our circumstances overwhelm us or we can choose to be thankful despite our circumstances. The point of view we choose will affect every part of our day and every part of our attitude.

God doesn't tell us to be thankful when bad things happen. He tells us to be thankful in the midst of our circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." Our circumstances have the ability to rob us of joy and thanksgiving -- but only if we let them.

I am not thankful that my daughter is sick again. I am not thankful that we may have to change our plans for this week yet again. I am not thankful that my older daughter is getting the short end of the stick in not being able to hang out with her friends because her sister is sick. And God doesn't ask me to be thankful for all of those things.

However, even in the midst of our circumstances, I can find things for which to be thankful. I am thankful for the relative health of my girls. I am thankful for doctors and medicine. I am thankful that these illnesses, though they have come one on top of the other, are not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. They're not cancer or diabetes or some other life-threatening illness. I am thankful that even when I'm less than grateful, God is still there, loving me and caring for me.

So, today, my daughter and I are going to choose to be thankful despite the circumstances that will keep us home for one more day. We're going to choose to be thankful that we have a house to stay in, doctors to care for us, and a family that loves each other -- even if today we don't want to touch each other for fear of spreading germs. We are going to choose not to wallow in self-pity but to enjoy the blessings this day brings our way.

It may not be easy to set aside those feelings of frustration and anger, but it is necessary. And having a grateful heart pushes those feelings to the side. It's almost impossible to be frustrated and angry and thankful at the same time. So, today we're choosing gratitude in our house. Will you choose it in yours -- no matter the circumstances?